The One Where _________ ____________

by Jiordan Castle

At 3am, I watch the episode of Friends where everyone’s late to Thanksgiving dinner. I think about my father, the missing letters he wrote me. I never asked him what they eat in prison on Thanksgiving—if there are _____, if the _____ are mashed; if there are _____, if the _____ are canned. And the knives: where they’re kept, if they go missing, what happens if they go missing. Same goes for forks, spatulas, tongs, spoons. Anything can be _____, brought outside or back to a cell and used to _____ someone. But the day a man broke my father’s _____, he used his hands.

I fixated. I still do. The day I visited the prison in Ohio where they shot _____, I took photos of the rows—so many rows—of cells. A green-gray panorama. When I reached the “_____,” I chose one and stood inside. Closed the door—a single slit so narrow all I could make out was the idea of bodies moving past. Light: no body. Dark: body. Unseen knowns: tourists flashing their cameras; their _____ shirts, fanny packs, _____ hats; their headphones; young children; _____. The echo of their laughter inside my _____, and inside my _____. My father spent an entire _____ in one of these. Just his hands and the idea of their shape, not their shape.

 

 

 

Jiordan Castle is the author of the chapbook All His Breakable Things (Finishing Line Press, 2020). Winner of the 2018 Pigeon Pages essay contest, her work has appeared in Frontera, Verdad, Vinyl, and elsewhere. She is a regular contributor to the LA-based food and culture magazine Compound Butter and lives in New York City. You can find her at jiordancastle.com and @jiordancastle everywhere else.

 

Art by Michelle Johnsen, art editor

Michelle Johnsen is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine, EcoWatch.com, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by APweather.com, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at] gmail.com.